Chief Israel ‘war crimes’ investigator at Soros-financed human rights group also avid Nazi memorabilia collector 

This story has actually been around for a few months, but glad to see it’s finally gaining some traction. Last fall, one of the founders of Human Rights Watch came out and accused the organization of being irrationally anti-Israel. To make matters worse, members of the organization thought nothing of fund raising in Saudi Arabia, where the organization’s criticism of Israel was no doubt a selling point.

And if this weren’t bad enough, the Times of London has an in-depth piece about the ensuing scandal when it was revealed that one of the organization’s lead investigators and vocal Israel critic is an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia:

By day, Marc Garlasco was HRW’s only military expert, the person that its Emergencies Division would send to conflict zones to investigate alleged war crimes. He wrote reports condemning the dropping of cluster bombs in the Russia-Georgia war, the alleged illegal use of white phosphorus by the Israeli army in Gaza and coalition tactics that he said “unnecessarily” put Iraqi or Afghan civilians at risk. An enthusiastic source of quotes for the media, he was incessantly on the phone to journalists.

But by night, Garlasco was “Flak88”, an obsessive contributor to internet forums on Third Reich memorabilia and an avid collector of badges and medals emblazoned with swastikas and eagles.

A lavishly illustrated $100 book he compiled and self-published is dedicated to his grandfather, who served in the Luftwaffe. On members-only sites such as Wehrmachtawards.com he was writing comments like “VERY nice Hitler signature selection”; “That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!”

An interest in Nazi memorabilia does not necessarily suggest Nazi sympathies — but it is hardly likely to play well in the salons where Garlasco’s employer might solicit donations.

My favorite detail from the story is this:

The enthusiasts for Third Reich memorabilia who meet up in cyberspace make up a cosy little community. In one posting Garlasco put up a photograph of himself wearing a sweatshirt with an Iron Cross on the front, sitting next to his daughter. One of his internet buddies comments: “Love the sweatshirt… Not one I could wear here in Germany though — well I could but it would be a lot of hassle.”

What a tender family moment. And that’s the problem with wearing Nazi memorabilia around — it’s such a hassle! In any event, this is all a big deal because Human Rights Watch is funded by and run by the creme de la creme of the liberal establishment and raises two million a year from a lavish Hollywood fund raiser:

Human Rights Watch is one of two global superpowers among the world’s myriad humanitarian pressure groups. It is relatively young — established in its current form in 1988 — but it has grown so quickly in size, wealth and influence that it has all but eclipsed its older, London-based rival, Amnesty International.

Unlike Amnesty, HRW, as it is known, gets its money from charitable foundations and wealthy individuals — such as the financier George Soros — rather than a mass membership. And, also unlike Amnesty, it seeks to make an impact, not through extensive letter-writing campaigns, but by talking to governments and the media, urging openness and candour and backing up its advocacy with research reports. It is an association that is all about influence — an influence that depends on a carefully honed image of objectivity, expertise and high moral tone. So it was perhaps a little awkward that a key member of staff was found to have such a treasure trove of Nazi regalia.

Garlasco is no longer working for Human Rights Watch, but it is amazing the extent to which the organization defended his distasteful hobby. Make sure you read the whole sordid story.

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Mark Hemingway

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